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Tsunami? That's So 10 Minutes Ago!

Reported by Nancy - January 7, 2005 -

Today (1/7) on FNL, tsunami relief efforts have fallen almost completely off the radar (except of course for the ongoing PR blitz about what "our troops" are doing).

At 11:37am Brigitte Quinn showed "new video by an Indian tourist" & said the US "has thrown a lot of money" into disaster relief, but "is our generosity winning over any critics?" Greg Palkot reported from Aceh that Kofi Annan "managed" some appreciation for the US, & that Operation United Assistance choppers are delivering "100,000 pounds of food & water". Palkot noted that a recent pre-tsunami survey in Indonesia showed a US approval rating of 17%, but said everybody in Aceh is very grateful (clip of Indonesian woman saying same). Palkot commented that since Aceh is "staunchly Islamic" it "makes ya wonder how things might be..."

At 12:05pm Trace Gallagher reported from Thailand, showing (again) the video shot by a 16-year-old Indian tourist & "more new video also from India" (video of wave hitting wall & monument). Gallagher said that "Powell toured Sri Lanka" & is "now on his way back to" DC (clip of Powell). Gallagher noted that the death toll now stands at 145,000 (in Indonesia alone it's 100,000+) & that a Saudi Arabian telethon raised $85M for disaster relief. He also commented on how beneficial a warning system would be, noting that "all along the beach everything [was] destroyed" but "100 yards away not much damage" so an advance warning of only a few minutes might have allowed thousands of people to move to safety.

At 12:57pm teasers included: "is a terror group plotting againt US troops in aid effort?" -- to promo a segment to be aired on the upcoming program, "Dayside with Linda Vester," allegedly about whether participating the tsunami relief efforts is putting "our troops" at risk.

So much for the tsunami, its aftermath & ongoing relief efforts.

General comment: Aside from some eye candy (the new videos), FNL today is clearly bored with this story. In their week-long marathon of "ain't we swell" & "let's pat ourselves on the back" coverage (I use the term loosely) FNL groped desperately for an issue that would let them hype their usual anger/outrage or fear/loathing angles, with stabs at the UN & Europe; the "stingy" brouhaha; attempts to imply "internet scans", "insurance scams" & "gangs kidnapping children for sexual exploitation"; & whiny complaints that essentially boiled down to "hey, we're plenty compassionate!" FNL largely ignored massive relief efforts by NGOs such as Oxfam, MSF & the ICRC (all of which already had a significant "presence" in the area & were thus able to move quickly). Instead, FNL chose to focus on US military involvement in relief efforts, including reporters "embedded" on copters & PowerPoint-style slides straight from the Pentagon. Even the BClinton-GHWBush "private donations" effort got short shrift on FNL (aside from the invaluable opportunity to air more video of GWBush)..

For a nice analysis of how badly Fox in general covered this issue, see Eric Boehlert's article in Salon today.

CORRECTION 01/10/05: I misspelled Boehlert's name in my original post. Thanks to readers who pointed out the typo. It has now been corrected.